College presents our children with opportunities that can last them a lifetime. Not only do they learn the basis of their major, which can start them off on a successful career, our kids will also become exposed to individuals, cultures, thoughts, and recreation they have never been part of before.
Of course it’s the R-word, as in recreation, that should tip us off toward having that chat with our college-bound kids about drug and alcohol use. And to be fair, as idyllic and serene as a college campus might seem when you last visited your child’s campus, things may be completely different at night when the parties begin.
According to a New York Times article, there is evidence that suggest that when parents provide more information and better modeling early on, their children’s risk of substance abuse goes down1
If you hold concern for your child’s well-being as they embark on the first year of their college career, it’s best to open a dialogue as soon as you can to help them understand what they should do if they encounter drugs and alcohol on their college campus.
They may be our kids, but as they leave for college, they’re anything but kids. As you discuss the possibility of drugs and alcohol coming in contact with your kids, explain the complications to them with factual language and examples. Telling them “Just don’t do it” can be demeaning, which may in turn cause your discussion to fall on deaf ears.
Remember, they’re adults now. They don’t need to be told what and what not to do, nor do they need to have their hand held. What our kids instead need is advice that plays more to a peer-to-peer aspect than a parent-child aspect.
A good way to break the ice in this very important pre-college discussion is to bring up your own days of glory and graduation. In short, what did you do in college when you crowded around the keg, were passed down a joint, or offered a line of cocaine? Did you refuse or did you partake? And if you did partake, what were your regrets?
The beginning of college can be an awkward time in your son or daughter’s life. So the last thing they need to hear is how they’re smarter or better than those who use drugs on campus.
Employ instead a combination of realities for your college-bound child. Yes, they’re intelligent, and yes, you’d rather they stay away from any sort of substance use on campus. Yet, you also realize you can’t be there to guard them throughout their college career. So they should be aware of the temptation.
Just in the same way you should not be patronizing with your kids about being better than kids who are using, on the contrary you will want to reinforce their strength by reminding them that “no” is a perfectly legitimate answer to the offer of drugs and/or alcohol by their college mates.
If your college-bound child fears that their refusal of illicit substances might make them unpopular, reassure your child with that in a college atmosphere, there are many more people for him/her to befriend, some of who could also be drug free.
Your kid might have belonged to a clique while in high school. And of course those cliques could have been comprised of anyone from athletes to the academically gifted, onward to other students with specific interests.
Well, in college cliques aren’t so defined. And those who use alcohol and drugs could compromise any group on campus as opposed to high school where your son or daughter knew them simply as stoners.
Remind your child that drug use can occur within any social setting on a college campus. It can happen at ball games, parties, and other social events.
Tell your child that if they feel they have a substance abuse issue, first try to resist their addiction as best as possible. Find new friends and acquaintances if they feel it’s necessary. Also look into any on-campus services that might be accessible to them.
Lastly, you should reassure your child that in addition to their on-campus resources, you as well are available if it appears they might have a substance abuse issue. Also reassure them that you will not pass blame or be judgmental should a drug or alcohol problem arise within them. Advise them that substance abuse can happen to anyone at any time.
College is where our kids begin to test themselves in the world beyond their front door and childhood street. Let’s help them make the best of their college career by guiding and sharing with them your experiences with drugs and alcohol while in college. Be candid and honest, and realize as a parent that at this stage in your son or daughter’s life, candidness and honesty are two of the most important attributes of yourself you can give them. But even with that, the ultimate decision about alcohol and drug use belongs to them.
If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.